Happy 4:20 to Me and Diane

A few years before 4:20 became a code for “let’s smoke pot,” Diane and I were married on that day, which today happens to be our 52nd celebration of that union. Why certain people chose to use this code for their activities isn’t clear to me, they just did. It doesn’t matter. What’s important to me is that we claimed it first. So, there.

To make it to the wedding I went home on leave from the Navy between duty stations to capture my bride. I was transported from the USS Cleveland, off the coast of the Viet Nam DMZ to Danang where I awaited a day for my flight home. According to the folks who made my air reservations, Okinawa was my next duty station and that’s where they ended my flight. I was a long way from Warren and on a time limit so I was a little flustered. After talking to a lot of people, I convinced them that they owed me a trip to CONUS (Continental US) since I was transported from Viet Nam and I wasn’t going to spend my 30 days of leave on Okinawa.

I was booked on a flight leaving the next day and stayed awake the entire 30 some hours to make sure nothing changed and I didn’t miss it.

When I boarded the Air Force C-141 for my flight I wasn’t prepared for the cargo they were hauling back to the states. The plane was full of aluminum caskets containing the remains of GI’s killed in Viet Nam. I didn’t count the caskets, but I felt compelled to walk amongst them, reading the names of who they contained. It wasn’t likely that I would know any of them, and I didn’t, but there was a need in me to do that. There was no pomp and circumstance involved in their loading (to my knowledge) so my little tiny bit of recognition seemed to be important. This was in 1968 when military people were generally despised by the masses.

The flight ended for me in Anchorage, Alaska where I voluntarily jumped ship and got a flight south to Portland. In Anchorage I called Diane to alert her of my pending arrival and boarded a more suitable airplane to Seattle. When I arrived there, I called Diane again to let her know that I would be in Portland in about 30 minutes.

Although Warren is about an hour’s drive to PDX, Diane made it there before my flight. Part of that was because she was driving my 1966 Chevelle Sport Coupe. It was quick, and she was determined.

She gathered me up and got me home on the 16th or 17th of April. Thankfully, all of her plans were in place for the big event. All I had to do was show up.

She selected the 20th because both of our birthdays are on the 20th and she thought I would be inclined to remember it.

The wedding was awesome. I got to marry my high school sweetheart and Bethany Lutheran Church was filled to capacity for us. It was an amazing turnout for two skinny kids from Scappoose (me) and Warren (her).

My leave period ended very quickly, too quickly, before I had to catch my flight back to Okinawa. Diane couldn’t go with me because she didn’t have her passport. She did, however, fly with me to Travis AFB, her first time on an airplane.

When she got her passport we arrange her travel from Portland to Okinawa, a trip she had to make on her own. She was a brave woman, but I knew that.

Taking that first step with me turned out to be a 20-year career for her as a Navy Wife. She professes to have loved pretty much every minute of it. So have I, and we’re still enjoying our time together.

Here’s the last selfie I took of us together at Cape Lookout State Park. This is where we were when the pandemic began and everyone was ordered to stay inside.

Another Day in Paradise

Today was another sunny one here at the beach. It got to 65 at one point as we navigated back to camp from Tillamook. We braved the crowds because Diane needed paper towels. Fred Meyer didn’t have any, but Safeway did. She did, however, score some chocolate covered Peeps at Freddies. She also got a small knife sharpener at my request because all the big knives are dull like rocks.

Once we got home I immediately sharpened all those knives and also the one I carry in my pocket. I’ve been whittling a little and found it a bit dull. They all sharpened right up.

Then we took a walk to the beach because the tide’s out and there’s actually one we can walk on. The last few times we’ve been there the tide was in and splashing right up against the rocks with no place to walk.

Crafty people were there ahead of us.

While Diane soaked up the vitamin D, I wandered around looking at likely sticks to whittle, found a few then went back to her log and whittled til I cut my thumb. That signaled the end to whittling because I was getting blood all over my whittling stick. Little cuts are easily remedied because I carry bandaids in my cell phone case just for that reason. I have a stunning variety of them available at all times. But, it was time to return to shelter anyway, so, we went back to the RV.

We had a concert scheduled for our church service this coming Sunday but Governor Brown has banned gatherings of 25 or more, and President Trump trimmed that to 10. I was going to cancel it tomorrow, but the group, New Legacy Project, beat me to it. Their scheduler cancelled all upcoming concert dates for the foreseeable future for this group of talented young men and recalled them to Nashville. It’s sad to cancel, but better to be safe for all concerned. This would have been their fifth visit to our humble little church. If you ever have an opportunity to attend one of their events, they are free, please do. You won’t be disappointed.

Now it’s time for sustenance and a movie. Tonight it’s going to be “My One and Only”. It’s a Renee Zellweger movie and we like her.

Camping & COVID-19

Diane and I have weathering the current COVID-19 outbreak in space C51 at Cape Lookout State Park. We didn’t run here to flee civilization because of our concern about the virus, it just kind of worked out. Diane had this trip planned many weeks ago. We’re six days in on a planned ten day stay. So far we’ve had sun every day. At home it snowed last night. We’re in the right place.

We have been surviving without TV with no deleterious effects. Instead of TV we’ve been reading, mostly, and checking the internet once in a while. The park doesn’t have internet but our cell phones have a tiny little signal that allows us to use the “hot spot” feature, so Diane gets her daily fix of Trump snippets. Her day isn’t complete without at least a couple of those.

We have been watching one movie a day. Yes, that’s on our TV, but doesn’t count because there’s no news, or commercials.

Last night we watched two movies because the first one was so horrendously boring. It was almost 3 hours long and was about the beginning of the CIA. The name is “The Good Shepard”. We don’t recommend it for anyone who doesn’t need a nap.

Yesterday we mosied around the backroads of Pacific City and came upon an entire hill full of Holy Cow Houses. Those houses that, when you first see them, causes one to blurt out “Holy Cow, look at that house!”

Seriously major homes, the vast majority of which appeared vacant. We postulated about that and determined they were all owned by California lottery winners who have other homes all over the place and only use the ones in Pacific Beach when the sun shines and gets the temp above 70 degrees. Whatever the reason, they are quite magnificent. Considering that the development name is Nantucket Shores, it’s possible all those houses are owned by a Rhode Island lottery winner who wishes to spend time, with his enormous family, in another beautiful part of God’s world, while pretending he’s still on that little island in the Atlantic.

Lunch at The Schooner on Netarts Bay – best fish and chips ever. Really. I had a cup of some really good clam chowder and a piece of Diane’s fish.

After lunch we drove to Alderbrook Golf Course, north of Tillamook. It’s a beautiful course with awesome fairways. Diane was excited because there wasn’t anyone playing. But, the guy in the pro shop pointed out that the wind was blowing pretty hard, keeping players away. I told the guy in the pro shop that wind doesn’t bother people who can’t hit the ball straight. Also, if they’re concerned about wind they’d never be happy playing with me and the Peal Boy’s because wind just isn’t a factor for us. Neither is snow or rain.

All the restrictions for COVID-19 are concerning. I’m sure pretty much everyone is getting the message about how important it is to wash one’s hands. At least we hope they are. We’ve enforced that simple heigenic routine with the Littles, and each other, for years. Some of us still don’t get it but they aren’t the ones likely to contract the virus. We older folks are. So, we keep them honest by making them wash their hands pretty much every time they touch anything. We do our best to ensure they understand the possible consequences of not washing their hands before opening the refrigerator, any drawer or cupboard to get eating utensils, or when they cough. All the news about this virus gives us ample opportunities to get their attention and say, “See what happens when you don’t wash!?”

I have photos of houses and “stuff” that I’ll have to add later. The weak signal we have won’t allow me to upload them with this. So, I’ll just send it off without them and work on the A/V aspect later.

Hope everyone is getting through this scary time OK. We’re praying for everyone.

Now I must stop. Diane is prettying up to go shopping at Safeway in Tillamook. Alone. I’m staying home to work on the furnace. It won’t light and Diane doesn’t want to be here when it blows up while I’m working on it.

Wish me luck.

Hey, Howdy!

It’s been a while since I’ve let you know that I’m still out here causing grief. I’d ask for forgiveness but it really doesn’t matter because you either missed me or you didn’t. Not a problem.

The occasion for this visit is to let folks know that, after a grueling number of months, Adam got the job as Youth Pastor at Grace Baptist Church in St. Helens. Some of you may recall a previous post where I mentioned Adam and Alicia. We’re very happy for them and they are looking forward to making their home in the St. Helens area. We’ve had the privilege to visit with them a couple of times recently and it was enough exposure for me to actually remember the girls’ names: Ivy, Autumn, Cora. I can even call them by the correct name when I see them. It will be fun getting to know the Pinkston family better.

Cedric spent a couple of weeks at home and had to be back aboard the Nimitz for work today so Diane drove him back to Bremerton yesterday. I was allowed to ride along to keep her company as long as I didn’t ask a lot of questions. We planned to leave home at noon and managed to get gone right on time around 2-2:30. The ultimately goal was to arrive in Bremerton before dark, which we did. After dropping Cedric at his apartment we mossed up to the Trigger Ave. gate in Silverdale to the Naval Station to see if the Navy Lodge had a room available for the night. I called the previous day and was told NO. We’ve discovered that just arriving and asking works well, and they had a room for us. Nifty.

Before checking in we headed back into town to find a place to eat that had decent food, not fast food. After a long trip on the freeway we wound up about a mile away at Fujiama Japanese Steak House. It’s in a little strip mall close to the base and is truly deceptive in appearance. The entry is small but inside is at least 10 Benihana grills surrounded by chairs. Each grill could accommodate about 10 people, so it’s like a family style Benihana. That isn’t part of their advertisement. It’s just a steak house, right? It’s way better than that.

Diane and I split a steak and I inherited all of her broccoli from the vegetable pile. The chef was talented and put on a good show. To start he juggled some raw eggs which he then cooked on the grill. They were destined to be part of the fried rice. Before mixing it all up, however, he went around the table addressing each person in turn, then tossing a small piece of egg which they were supposed to catch in their mouth. Some chose to skip this exercise because they were wearing nice clothes, and others who accepted the challenge saw the egg flying over their heads, or splattering against their cheeks or chins. As it turned out, I was the last one and I caught my piece of egg like a pro. You would have been proud. I’m pretty sure the other diners wanted to applaud, but they didn’t. Diane was one of the decliners which was just fine.

Needless to say, the meal was excellent and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Although the steak was good, I’ve already decided that the next time we go there, and we will, I’m getting the shrimp. I was given a couple to sample and they are awesome. And, there were a lot of them for those who ordered them.

In addition to catching my piece of the flying egg, you will be proud to learn that I was the only person at the table who actually ate everything on the plate. Well, Diane ate her plate clean, too, but she gave me those broccoli’s, right, so it didn’t count. Everyone else had to get boxes to remove the left overs.

After a good rest at the Navy Lodge, we got up and headed home, the long way. Lots of side streets are involved in the long way which make trips lots more fun. The first side trip was to discover where the Bremerton Elks Lodge is for future reference. We’ll be going there in June with our Winnebago friends. We don’t have a Winnebago any more but they let us tag along anyway.

After leaving Bremerton Diane began having thoughts of lunch so I searched for something suitable in Shelton, WA. I chose another steak house just because it had a 4 star rating but when we got there we couldn’t find it on the first drive-by. So, we wound up at Blondie’s Cafe which also has a 4 star rating. That’s 4 out of 5, by the way. Just sayin.

I ordered a Denver omelet and Diane had fish and chips. My omelet was tremendous and undoubtedly the best Denver I’ve ever had. Diane’s fish pieces were huge and she could only eat one of the three provided. Another good place to park your rear and enjoy an exceptional meal.

Now we’re home and gearing down for the night. Only one more hour to bedtime.

I’m sure I forgot a bunch of stuff but that’s OK. Diane will refresh my memory if she reads this.

Hope all is well with everyone.

Small World Stuff

Considering all the not so good things that have happened over the last couple of weeks, this last week has restored a semblance of normalcy and happiness to our lives.

The good stuff started on Thursday the 14th when brother Jack had his aortic valve replaced and he came through with flying colors. He’s been waiting for this since he was about 9 years old, I think. That’s a guess, of course. I really don’t know when it was determined to be necessary. The point is, at this time, he got it done, he’s home, and it’s all good. Wynette didn’t actually say it but I’m sure she’s convinced he’s good for another 20-30 years. Makes me happy.

Then, on the 19th, sister Ruth had back surgery, not her first rodeo, and it also went well. Last I heard she was still in a little pain but at a lower level of normal than she’s experienced over the past many years. We’re happy she got some relief.

On the 20th it just kept getting better when we loaded up the RV and headed south to Keizer, Oregon to visit with our old Winnebago friends Terry, Carolann, Susie, Cliff, Les, Sophie, Pete, and Jeannie. We were invited to spend our time in Keizer at their Elks club RV park. Getting in was no problem and we submitted the required funds and got set up.

That first night we all gathered for dinner at Les & Sophie’s house for the traditional pot luck. We could do that because Les & Sophie actually live in Keizer, unlike the rest of us. Pete & Jeannie live just a short drive south, on the other side of Salem. Pete and Les are brothers. The rest of us are from other various parts of the country and aren’t, to the best of my knowledge, related to each other in any way. But, you just never know.

The next day we all went shopping. Diane took the girls, and Les took the boys. I would have driven the boys but before leaving home Diane forgot to remind me to put my wallet in my pocket so I drove the RV hundreds of miles without a driver’s license on my body. Thankfully, it was an uneventful trip, and no one ratted me out, so the police weren’t involved.

When we returned to our respective RVs from shopping, we discovered that during our absence Diane, me, Cliff, and Susie had been evicted from the Elks property because of a new rule that prohibits members from inviting guests to stay there. We aren’t Elks members. It was a little later in the afternoon when this happened, but Diane was able to secure a couple of spots at a nearby Good Sam park for about twice the price. But, we had a new home for the next couple of days. And it was a really nice one at the Phoenix RV & Storage Park.

That second evening we returned to Les & Sophie’s home to celebrate “Friendsgiving”. We did that since we knew we would be apart for Thanksgiving. It was a very good substitute, and one we can celebrate whenever we get together. We did it with all the normal Thanksgiving trimmings and it was terrific. I had to sit at the kid’s table for this meal. I’m not sure why. Apparently I was a little unruly at the pot luck the previous day.

On the 22nd we guys visited Harbor Freight to pick up some necessary “stuff” then went back to the Elks RV Park where Terry & Les raced their electric scooters. There was a lot of posturing and chest pounding leading up to the race about how Terry’s new seat cost more than Les’s shooter (which doesn’t have a seat). When it was all said and done the rig with a seat was the clear winner.

Sadly, that didn’t stop the chest pounding and only primed the pump for cheaper and faster scooters. This could really get ugly. Since we’re all connected I might know what’s happening and can share results.

Now for the small world stuff … after the shopping was done we all descended on a Taco Del Mar for lunch and had a nice visit. Men in one booth, women in another. Kind of like a high school dance. While listening to Terry relate a story to Less he mentioned someone named Pinkston which caused my ears to perk up.

Diane should have been closer because she loves it when my ears perk up. She says it makes me look like a little chihuahua puppy. Makes your heart melt a little, doesn’t it?

I waited for a reasonable pause in Terry’s story to ask about the Pinkston reference and to discover if he knew Adam Pinkston. He said “sure, He’s married to Alicia and they have a bunch of daughters.” I responded, “Huh” because I also know Adam … Alicia is my cousin.

Small World.

Compounding this baffling revelation is that Daniel and our daughter Jennifer invited me and Diane to lunch with Adam and Alicia in Warren just a few days ago. You see, Adam has applied for a job at Daniel and Jennifer’s church in St. Helens and they didn’t remember the family connection until the a little memory from long ago caused Daniel to ask me if Adam was a cousin.

Very interesting.

I love this small world stuff. In this expanding world it’s getting us closer and closer together all the time.

How fun is that?

So, I ask that you pray for the leadership at Grace Baptist Church in St. Helens to make the right decision to hire Adam. He’s the right guy.

Now, about the lack of photos …

I really did try to add them but, sadly, I upgraded my MacBook to the new operating system and when I open my photos application it initiates a procedure to update my photo library. It’s a brutal process. I let it run for 3 days and it got all the way up to 75% complete before I lost patience and terminated Photos. I thought that maybe if I turned my computer all the way off and did a hard restart something different would happen. But it didn’t. It was still painfully slow. Now I’m convinced there’s a bug in the bush that I must discover before I can access my photos on this machine. Once I figure it out I’ll revisit this post and add some color.

I’m sure there are other alternatives but they will have to wait until we return home.

That’s it for now. Hope everyone has a wonderful, safe Thanksgiving celebration. Keep us in mind when you think about all those other people who choose to wander around on potentially icy freeways at this time of year.

On The Move, Again

We left Myrtle Beach this morning around 10 am, headed for Charleston where our assigned airplane will be flying from Monday evening. Before leaving town, however, Diane was curious to see a house she had spied for sale that’s only about 4 blocks from our hotel. We found it, and I took a photo which I will add later. The home is brick but one end is missing because a tree obviously fell on it. The tree is still there, but a little bit of the house isn’t. I think she said it’s been on the market for a year and can be had for only $78,000 even though they say it’s worth $140K. After seeing it from the street, we figure that doing a $100K renovation would probably make it worth $140K. Possibly.

We decided not to buy it.

Most of the way out of the beach area it rained on us. Not really hard, just steady. So, tropical storm Nestor is still exerting its influence in areas we had to cross. Diane had weather alerts on her phone the reports tornados in Georgia that were spawned by the storm, but nothing in our path. Then, once we made it to Joint Base Charleston she got one that said Myrtle Beach is currently under a tornado watch so we bailed out of there in the nick of time.

Before checking in to our quarters on the base, we stopped at the Long Point Grill for lunch. You may remember that place from the first entry on this trip because we stopped there on our way out of town before heading for Myrtle Beach. Good food and good service.

Because of the stop we arrived at the Inns of Charleston, on the base, a little later than planned so our room was ready and we were able to move right in. The desk clerk was very helpful and was only momentarily confused when I asked where the spa was. I can do stuff like that with a straight face, but I always come clean in the end. Still, she looked relieved when I told her I was kidding.

It’s still early here (1451 hours) but we had a rough time last night due to eating so late at the Pirate thing, so I was given the option of staying in or going out to investigate Charleston. I chose to stay in and Diane was totally OK with that. She only got 4 hours of sleep last night so needs to power down early.

That’s about it for today, unless something interesting happens. The main thing we need to do is repack all our stuff so we can get under the 50 # weight limit without having to send stuff home in a box. That’s the other alternative. I still think that’s a good idea, as does Diane, so we’ll probably do that just to make our bags as light as possible.

On the trip we talked about the things we learned while here in South Carolina. Here’s the list, as best as I can recall:

  1. Apparently a rule that every third building you encounter is a church.
  2. All bank buildings must look like either a church or a mansion.
  3. Even the bad roads in South Carolina (at least the ones we drove on) are pretty darn good. Most are great.
  4. The Nissan Rogue we rented is a good little SUV. Very comfortable, and a spectacular metallic green. (see below)
  5. There are Waffle Houses everywhere.
  6. The are Dollar General stores everywhere.
  7. In general, anywhere there are 4-5 homes within a 1/2 mile of each other, there are shopping malls to accommodate them.
  8. Most businesses along Highway 17 are shielded from view by 3 rows of pine trees. If you don’t know where they are, you’re going to miss the turn.

I’m sure there are more, but I think my brain is empty.

It’s dry and warm here in Charleston and we’re safely tucked into a large brick building.

More tomorrow.

Loris, South Carolina

Today was our last day in Myrtle Beach. It startedout like this …

Pretty nice, huh?

We’ve been here for two weeks and it’s been terrific. Apparently we visited at the proper time of the year because it was just great. I say that even though we’ve made attempts to visit this time of year for the last five years but little things, like hurricanes, prevented us from making the trip. Until now. And, we’re really happy about that.

Because of this successful trip, we both feel that visiting Myrtle Beach is preferable to visiting Hawaii. The weather is pretty much the same, the people here are super nice everywhere we’ve been, it’s not expensive, cheaper to get to, lodging is reasonable, and gas costs about $2.30 a gallon. It was only $2.19 when we got here but then came the weekend when gas prices magically increase. Still, compared to Oregon, $2.30 is acceptable.

This morning we got out of bed early (me at 0530 and Diane at 0730), had a bit of breakfast, then hit the road for Loris to check on the 37th annual Chicken Bog-off. Diane came across an advertisement for this and it caused her to go, “Hmmmm.”

What the heck is a bog-off? Sounds a lot like something that takes place in a swamp, doesn’t it? With motorized vehicles that have really big tires. After a little research we discovered Chicken Bog is simply a kind of food. Like calabash is a kind of food. Look it up. The reason we didn’t know about it is because we’re from Oregon and those things just don’t show up on menus there. Nope. It doesn’t.

Only in South Carolina, apparently. Loris took it one step further when the mayor decreed that each restaurant in town will serve Chicken Bog one day a week as it’s main dish.

While making our way to the massive crowds we passed the Backstreet Cafe where management had a table set up outside to sell chicken bog in addition to many other food choices. A young man standing there offered us some bog stating it’s the best in town. We begged off, wanting to see what was going on, and stated we’d be back.

The booths were simple, everyone was friendly, and there was a school choir performing.

Small town stuff and just plain fun.

We didn’t stay long before heading back to the car, stopping by the Backstreet Cafe on the way. We got one order of chicken bog and this is what it looks like …

It’s rice, chicken, and sausage in a very tasty mixture. It came with enormous green beans and coleslaw. It was pretty awesome, all of it. Diane is going to find a recipe and make it when we get home and force all the Littles to eat it. We’re betting they will eat it voluntarily because it’s just plain good. I suspect there are a lot of versions of chicken bog so she will have to search for the right one.

We left Loris after that brief visit then headed for Conway to see what their River Walk is like. We were going to do that when we visited Conway a few days ago, but forgot. Since Conway is on the way to/from Loris we took advantage and stopped to check it out.

It’s not a big river walk, but it’s nice. We met a nice guy on the visit who gave us a little history about the area. My question was what makes the water black? He told us it’s the leaves from the various trees that fall in the water.

From Conway we returned to our temporary home on Ocean Blvd, Myrtle Beach.

I wanted a nap but Diane insisted that I eat something, so I ate the two remaining chicken thighs from last night and Dane ate the remaining tuna salad. I only had an hour because we had tickets to attend Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show.

We had absolutely no idea what to expect at this venue. It was intriguing, though.

When we left our hotel it was raining. The first rain we’ve experienced during this entire trip. The cause is the tropical storm Nestor in the Gulf of Mexico. It wasn’t bad and we actually didn’t mind since were very good Oregonians.

Turns out the Pirates Voyage is quite an elaborate venue. They have a pre-show for a couple of hours before people are seated for dinner. The crowd was enormous and we thought we were going to wind up standing for the entire event. But, the pre-show was just that. All hundreds of us were shortly ushered into the next room of the venue where we were fed while watching a very elaborate pirate show consisting of very talented young people who danced, sane, dove, and tumbled. It was very much like a Cirque du Soleil show.

While the show was going on each section of about 20 people was being served their meal, one piece at a time. First there was a biscuit, then a cream of vegetable soup, half a small chicken, corn on the cob, pulled pork, and an apple turnover for dessert. Due to the ongoing show, we were eating in the dark quite a lot.

To start the show two very large yellow and blue parrots were release and they flew all around the set numerous times before swooping down to land on their handler’s shoulder and arm. That was followed by two red and black parrots that did the same thing. I tried to get photos of them but none turned out. Trust me when I say they were quite magnificent to watch.

The photos I took don’t do justice to the entertainment. You had to’ve been there.

Now we’re ‘home’ powering down for our last night here. Tomorrow we head back to Charleston.

It was another good day, even with the rain.

Cheers.